The gospel for this Sunday is Jesus giving us the greatest of commandments: “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13.34-35) As a Friar about to make his Solemn Vows this speaks to the life I am vowing to live. When St. Francis left his previous life and began his new life of penance it was because he desired to be drawn into Christ. Being drawn into Christ means one must live the gospel and to do this one must love. This is where I am at as I ponder what has been and what is to be.
I have always been in awe of how St. Francis gave up everything and trusted that God was at work in him. His love for the gospel and how it called him to live is the challenge that I (and all Friars and really all Christians) must embrace today. To give up everything and live the gospel means that one is truly living this commandment which Christ gave during that Last Supper. To love another takes a deep trust in God, for we must see that God is present in the other and all of creation. We must let go of our judgments and expectations and simply see them. This is what was awakened in St. Francis and stirred him not to hold on to this life but rather to be consumed with the life of love which is the life of God. As I look ahead and finalize details about vows, pilgrimage, packing and moving I am called back to the commandment of Christ and the witness of St. Francis which calls me to glorify God with my life. Love as challenging as it is, must be present in the simplest of actions as well as the grandest. Love one another so that everyone will know that we are his disciples means I must be aware of my living, my letting go and the way I love.
Over the last ten days I have seen the gift and power of this commandment. I have been part of a Christian-Muslim dialogue, I have led retreats for about one thousand children and have been involved in planning for the year ahead. In all of this there has been this undercurrent which is love. I could not have entered into the Christian-Muslim dialogue if I did not have love. I could not have preached about God’s love to the children if the gospel of love had not touched my heart and found a home there. I could not look ahead to new opportunities and new ministry if I was not being a disciple. I am in awe of God’s love at work always and I am grateful that the commandment of Christ is a daily reminder that my actions and words are to be that of love. I think this is what St. Francis did for he knew the freedom in this and was able to give his all. As a Franciscan I am called to this freedom as I strive to be a brother to all living a universal fraternity, I can only do this if I follow the commandment to love.
How about you? How are you called to live the commandment to love?